I pulled into the parking lot of my favorite cafe & checked my makeup in the rearview mirror. The sticky black mascara still clung to my eyelashes like a damp dress and my lips glowed a rose red instead of the usual chapped nude color.
One look at my face and the cafe employees would know something unusual was up. I usually rolled in around this time of day looking like a bum off the street. I grimaced. The only thing worse than being on an awkward first date was everyone knowing that you were on an awkward first date.
In the corner of my mirror I noticed a tall man walking towards the door and I immediately knew he was the one I had put on makeup for today. I hoped that he would buy my “I rolled out of bed like this” style attempt. A casual look that took me longer than I’d care to admit to achieve. The blue jeans and boots helped to make it seem authentic.
Not giving myself time to feel nauseas, I popped out of the car and strode confidently across the lot towards him. He turned my direction and smiled. I smiled back and said “Hey! You look just like yourself!”
With a start like that, it’s a wonder he didn’t just get down on one knee right then and there. He gave me a hug and affirmed that I also looked very much like myself. I suppose it was as an honest a start as any!
We attempted easy conversation as we walked in the doors to the cafe & I began to calm down. That is until I caught the eye of the guy at the register who looked and then looked back at us in surprise. I’m sure the surprised look on his face came from the fact that, for the first time in my 6 months of haunting the place, I was with a man. I felt like I had just been caught as an imposter & although I was nearly tall as the man beside me, I felt like a small child, way out of her element.
We found a table and began the process of communication! Oh words. Words are hard. Stringing them together into competent sentences is even harder. But we muddled through as we sipped our kombucha. Well, he sipped his. Nice slow sips like someone with manors, while I guzzled mine like a drunk at a bar.
As minutes turned into hours, and I stopped screaming in my head “I’m never doing this again!”, conversation began to flow naturally and my back began to relax. Soon I was slouched in my chair, with my feet propped on the base of the one beside me. His posture was as straight as ever but his smile seemed more comfortable on his face. Like it belonged there, instead of being hot glued in place.
Two and a half hours later, we called it a day. I gave him a quick hug and said goodbye. He walked away and I approached my car, wondering what I would say if he texted me to ask me out again! A few seconds later, he turned around and came back to where I was standing with keys in hand. He mumbled something I could not understand so I asked him to repeat the question. He said with a bit more confidence “Can I see you again?”
I froze. Hopefully more internally than externally. I didn’t know what to say and those illusive words were nowhere to be found. I’m not sure how much time passed but I heard myself say “Sure, that’d be fun!” and then we left.
In the car, I wondered about the man I just sat across from and I pondered the day. Pondered what makes a man and a women go through such torture just to get to know one another. Maybe it is because we hope. And maybe hope is a dangerous thing. Maybe hope by itself, is simply a funnel with no bowl underneath. Maybe it leaves a mess of our hearts, leaves wounds. Maybe we need more than hope.
So I close my eyes and pray. And I remember this isn’t all up to me to figure out.